Engineer: City sinkholes not a safety risk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

NATCHEZ — Two sinkholes on George F. West Boulevard are not expected to pose a safety risk, Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said Friday.

Last month, the Natchez Board of Alderman requested estimates of how much repairs would cost. Gardner informed the aldermen Tuesday it would cost several hundred thousand dollars to permanently repair the sinkholes, which are located within 150 feet of each other.

However, it would cost approximately $8,000 to fill the sinkholes with asphalt — a temporary fix that would last five to 10 years, Gardner said.

The aldermen did not take action to repair the sinkholes during their regular meeting Tuesday.

“When you look at it value wise, it makes a a lot more sense to (fill the sinkholes with asphalt) every five to 10 years than spending a lot of money excavating,” Gardner said. “I’d be glad to do the permanent fix, but we don’t have $200,000 laying around.”

Gardner said he hopes the city’s federal aid urban fund will eventually support costs for a permanent solution.

Soil boring would have to be conducted to determine the cause of a sinkhole, Gardner said.

“Nobody really knows what’s causing it until you do some soil borings down there,” Gardner said. “Until that happens, you know (the sinkhole) is going to keep on settling a little bit.

“(The sinkholes) are more of an inconvenience because there’s kind of a dip in the road. There’s no safety problem that the road’s going to collapse or anything like that.”

Gardner said an additional sinkhole is located on Franklin Street adjacent to Holy Family School. A soil boring was conducted at the site, and it determined the site was trash dump in the 1800s.

Like the sinkholes on George F. West Boulevard, the Franklin Street sinkhole is in the form of a slight dip in the road.